Posts Tagged ‘Poverty


The Intent of the Law or Misuse of it


icon_digg25 I guess I could be wrong!  I’ve always voted for candidates based on bills they have either authored or supported by their vote, and this, with me, has been true at the local state and federal levels of our government.

Now I see there are other things I should have considered besides the “Intent” of the bill introduced by the person I want in office or that person’s beliefs.

As I understand it, Lawmakers in at least eight U.S. states want recipients of food assistance, unemployment benefits or welfare to submit to random drug testing.  For me this is a travesty of government, which could lead to serious repercussions.  This effort comes as more Americans turn to these safety nets to ride out the recession. Poverty and civil liberties advocates fear the strategy could backfire, discouraging some people from seeking financial aid and making already desperate situations worse.  Please consider reviewing this online news release by CBS News entitled: “States Consider Drug Tests For Needy”.  Subtitled: “Recipients Of Food Stamps, Unemployment Benefits And Welfare Targeted By Plans In 8 States”.

We enact laws to “aid” and “protect” us for specifically defined reasons, when these laws are not used for this purpose, in my opinion we are violating the “Rule of Law”, which our country is based upon.

Suppose in my extreme example: a person is transporting a registered firearm “illegally” (in actuality basically a law bidding citizen with no criminal record) in there vehicle; and while transporting the firearm this person comes to the aid of rescuing another individual from a pending life or death situation, hence saving the person’s life!  Should this “Good Samaritan” be charged with the crime of transporting a firearm illegally?

For me, to long, I have witnessed the miscarriage of justice within our country in regards to applying laws authored to service one purposed and used in another to establish the “Law of Rule” as opposed to the “Rule of Law”.  Our former Bush administration is an additional example, with to many examples to site within one posting.

So, lets not deny those who need financial assistance at this troubling time in our economy when they need it the most.  Especially when you consider we could be hurting innocent family members within a family more so than the person under question.  Denying an individual these needed benefits could also lead this person to a more serious crime and with one in every one-hundred Americans serving prison time; our penal system is already heavily over crowded.

The following video is a prime example of the importance the Rule of Law as it applies to our American society and basically what separates our nation from developing and undeveloped nations.

Public Service, the Constitution, and the Rule of Law

Sen. Ted Kennedy delivers the keynote address at the 2006 Conference on Public Service & the Law at the University of Virginia Law School. Founded by law students seven years ago, the conference brings together students, citizens, and attorneys to discuss current public interest legal issues. A graduate UVA’s law school, Mr. Kennedy discusses ‘Public Service, the Constitution, and the Rule of Law’.


Our American Society’s Shameless Crime

Today it was disclosed 1 in 50 children, in America, live in a homeless family!

There’s “No” easy solution to this problem; children cannot be taken away from there parents and we as fellow citizens cannot easily provide homes for these families.  So what’s the solution?

As I see there is no short term fix; homelessness as a whole as been avoided for almost the past thirty years by us, the American people, and at all levels of government providing only token service at best to take care (soup kitchens, old clothing and limited, space available shelter) of the homeless, but “not” to solve the problem(s) of what creates homelessness.

However, as I do see it, there is a long term solution, which complements, but extends our recently passed Stimulus Package in congress last month.  After World War II our federal government provided funding for a number of nation wide housing projects to accommodate lower income family’s homes to temporally live in; until America’s economy recovered from the war effort and industry could re-gear to produce consumer related goods.  A side benefit of this aforementioned program was creating jobs for returning veterans from the European and Pacific theaters of action, which it successfully accomplished.

Today, the housing industry is suffering, thus the lack of “new housing starts”, placing many of our skilled tradesmen out of work (perhaps even homeless); so the question begs to be asked “why couldn’t an extension sum of money be included in the existing Stimulus Package for Federally Funded Housing?”

By now it should be intuitively obvious I’m more or less a Democratic, “left leaning” liberal, which to some means I believe in and support unlimited “welfare assistance”, which is not the case at all.  This “government housing”, I’m suggesting, must have enforceable, stick limitations for the tenants caring to reside in these proposed dwellings, suggested are a few:

  • Employable skills of the bread earners in the family
  • Employable skills available within the community
  • Available and meaningful vocational training within the community
  • Age of children within the family
  • Length of necessary stay by a family
  • Incentives for tenants to relocate to permanent, affordable housing

I’m sure there are additional limitations and conditions to consider, before commencing on such an extreme and expensive program, both these are what comes to mind, which are important to me.  In other words, stated simply, this is not another endless free ride for those who are content to exist on welfare or produce offspring to gain free to low cost housing for life.

I’m not going to invoke a session of preaching within this posting, but experience should have taught us that these homeless kids, growing up on our city streets have one alternative to turn to, which is “gangs, hence crime”; causing an ever worsening condition for our society.  With 1 out of 100 Americans serving prison time, I certainly don’t feel my tax payer dollars should be spent on additional confinement facilities or the expansion of existing prisons.

Below is the article which promoted this posting appearing in TIME and entitled: “Report Says 1 in 50 U.S. Kids Are Homeless”, authored by Steven Gray.

Report Says 1 in 50 U.S. Kids Are Homeless
By Steven Gray / Chicago Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2009

Even before the financial and home foreclosure crisis hit full stride, the number of homeless children in America had reached an alarming level. The National Center on Family Homelessness released a report today that estimates that one in every 50 American children was homeless between 2005 and 2006. That totals roughly 1.5 million kids. While the center provided no previous statistic to compare against that figure, a study conducted with different measures published in 2000 put the total at 1.35 million children living in homelessness each year. The numbers are likely to get worse as the economy continues to decline. “We know the numbers are going to skyrocket,” says Ellen Bassuk, president of the Newton, Mass.-based Center and an associate professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School.

Indeed, a quick survey of the country provides lots of evidence to support those fears. Chicago public school officials report the number of its 405,000 students deemed homeless soared to 11,143 last month from 9,182 in February 2006. School officials in Hillsborough County, Fla., which includes Tampa, have so far counted some 1,700 homeless students — and expect the figure to eclipse last year’s 2,020. Meanwhile, the surge in homeless families has overwhelmed Massachusetts’ shelters, forcing state officials to book motel rooms for the displaced. In January, some 4,600 homeless children were reported in the state’s shelters and motels, up from 3,411 from roughly one year earlier. (See one family’s struggle against homelessness.)

According to the new report, the states with the highest number of homeless children in the period studied were Texas (337,105), California (292,624), Louisiana (204,053), Georgia (58,397) and Florida (49,886). The states reporting the smallest populations of homeless children: Wyoming (169), Rhode Island (797), Vermont (1,174), North Dakota (1,181), and South Dakota (1,545). However, the report also ranks the states according to parameters that go beyond their share of homeless children, factoring in, among other things, incidence of such health conditions as asthma and tooth decay. With that framework, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island and North Dakota were rated among states that dealt best with the problem overall. At the bottom of the list: Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, New Mexico and Louisiana.

Families with children comprise roughly one-third of the nation’s homeless population. Poverty continues to be a core reason for the crisis, though the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina combined to swell the numbers in Louisiana, Texas and Georgia. Since the 1980s, single mothers have accounted for an increasing share of the homeless population, partly because of increased divorced rates, gender and wage disparities, and the shrinking supply of affordable housing. Officials believe that the current home foreclosure crisis will be adding a new demographic to these statistics: middle-class blacks and Latinos. “It’s families that were living pretty independently, doing pretty well. And, through just one event, it was, like, a domino effect — if one part of the puzzle breaks off, then everything breaks off,” says Michael Levine, who coordinates social work programs for Hillsborough, Fla.’s 206,000-student school system. (See Cleveland’s woes amid the current foreclosure crisis.)

The nation’s states and cities are awaiting an infusion of $1.5 billion from President Obama’s stimulus package devoted to homelessness prevention programs. Those programs will provide short-term rental and mortgage assistance, as well as security deposits and utility bills. A decade ago, the Department of Housing and Urban Development spent barely $1 billion on all of its homeless programs each year.

Still, measuring homelessness is tricky, partly because of varying definitions of what constitutes homelessness. It is especially difficult to gauge homelessness among children, since many teenagers are reluctant to identify themselves as such, and evade formal counts by living independently on the streets or in vacant apartments with friends. This is compounded by the scarcity of housing options for children over age 12, particularly boys, who are typically barred from entering shelters with their mothers. So any gauge merely offers a glimpse at the problem’s severity. The report’s researchers based their analysis on a broad definition of homelessness that included, for instance, children living in shelters, on the streets, or with other relatives, a practice known as “doubling up.” The findings are no less startling: Roughly three-quarters of homeless children are of elementary school age, and 42% are below age six.

The consequences of homelessness are profound. Homeless children are twice as likely as other children to be “retained,” or held back, one academic year, or to be suspended or, ultimately, to drop out of school altogether. School districts across the country report a growing share of students who are “highly mobile” — who move multiple times within a school year. With each move, experts say, such students are at risk of falling some six months behind, or more, in their studies. Roughly one-quarter of homeless children have witnessed violence. It isn’t surprising, then, that nearly half of such children suffer from anxiety and depression.

It’s the narrative that Trisha Parker, 19, is hoping to avoid for her infant son. Parker can’t live with her mother, who receives federal housing assistance, and neither can she live with her grandmother in the Chicago suburbs much longer. Parker says she completed training to be a medical technician, but couldn’t find work in the field. She was recently hired as a security guard, earning $11 an hour. But that’s hardly enough to afford even a $600 a month studio apartment. Larger units are beyond her reach. “They want the first and last month’s security deposit” which is, she figures, about $2,000, maybe $2,500. “It really is a lot.”

Complementing this story is a YouTube video regarding a program in Massachusetts, Horizons for Homeless Children, which is a good example of what can be done for the less fortunate children in today’s America.

Horizons for Homeless Children Programs

This is a 3.5 minute piece that features Massachusetts-based Horizons for Homeless Children and the programs/services it offers to homeless children and families. For more information, visit

Special thanks to all involved in the production of this video, including Redtree Productions, Jay Williams, Richard Klug, Soundtrack Boston, Alex Lasarenko at Tonal Sound and Mary Richardson. Thanks also to all of the children, families, volunteers and HHC staff who helped share the story.

Newswire Updates:

The New Face Of Homelessness
from | by Kelly Cobiella

When Michael Rotundo finishes school every day, he comes home to a double bed at the Budget Inn – no yard, no neighborhood kids,

“I don’t have a lot of thinking room,” Michael said. “I can’t think straight with math, reading.”

“You’re having a tough time in school?” asked CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella.

“Yes,” Michael said. “I almost failed.”

Michael is 12, but talks, acts and worries like an adult.

“We can’t get a home because we don’t have a lot of money left over to rent a house or buy a house,” Michael said. “It’s just so hard for me and my family to live here.”

Michael, his mom and dad have been living in this motel room for 11 months, ever since his dad lost his job. His parents are working again, and they make too much money to qualify for food stamps or Medicaid and live week to week. Sometimes day to day. Mom Julie can see her son changing.

“He worries,” Julie Rotundo said. “He’s afraid to ask me for things. He’s afraid to tell me that there’s a school event that we’re going to miss. And I don’t know what to do. I’m sorry. It’s tough. Just imagine.”

Across the country about one in 50 school kids is living just like Michael in hotels or shelters, or with friends and relatives. And their numbers are growing fast.

Although it’s difficult to get exact figures, nationwide schools reported an 18 percent jump in homeless kids in the 2007-2008 school year. School districts in California and Florida report an even bigger increase this year.

Many kids lost more than just their homes.

“I have like no clothes anymore because I lost them all,” said Breanna Martin, a 13-year-old. “So basically I wear whatever I can find. I’m wearing right now my grandpa’s shirt and my grandma’s pants. It’s really hard not having anything of your own and wearing someone else’s.”

Safe Families For Children In Need

More than one out of three parents told CBS News that the recession had affected their children’s lives in some way. For some children, the impact goes far deeper, and may be to them what the Great Depression was to an earlier generation.

Update 09 May 09:

NYC Charging Rent At Homeless Shelters
from The Huffington Post News Editors

Even the homeless can’t escape the high price of a night in New York City.  City officials this month began charging rent to some families staying in homeless shelters.  The policy applies only to shelter residents who have income from jobs.  They could be expected to pay up to half their earnings.  Some shelter residents say the new rule will ruin their chances of saving enough money to get an apartment.  One single mother living in a Manhattan shelter tells The New York Times she got a letter saying she had to give up $336 of the $800 she makes each month as a cashier.  The city says it is only charging people who can afford to pay.  About 2,000 families are expected to be covered by the new rule.

Update 07 May 09:

3.5M Kids Under 5 In U.S. Face Hunger Risk

An estimated 3.5 million children under the age of 5 are at risk of hunger in the United States, according to a look at government numbers by an anti-hunger group.

Update 13 Mar 09:

A Tent City Near You? Tell Us About It
Arthur Delaney
Huffington Post

There are reports of tent cities popping up across the country as unemployment rises in a worsening economy. The biggest and highest-profile shantytown is in Sacramento, where hundreds of newly-homeless tent residents are cooking soup in old coffee cans.

We want to know where else this is happening.

HuffPost readers: Is there a tent city near you? Have you noticed a newly-formed community of people living together in improvised housing in a public space? Email us! Send any information you’ve got (or pictures) to

Sacramento’s KCRA reported this week that city officials plan to shut the tent city down:

Sacramento’s ‘Tent City’ To Be Closed

Campers in a large tent city at the north end of downtown Sacramento will be told to leave the property with their belongings within a few weeks, assistant city manager Cassandra Jennings said Wednesday.

Schwarzenegger Promises To Help Tent City

California will help Sacramento officials relocate about 150 people from a homeless encampment that put the city in the international spotlight, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Wednesday.

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